If you are going through a divorce, it is important to remember that this will impact your children as well. The most important thing for parents to understand is that their children are not going through the same experience they are and they may not be able to recognize how they might be feeling. Children feel different emotions than adults do, but these emotions can still have long-term effects on them if left unaddressed.
Children feel they are to blame
Kids often think they are to blame for their parent’s divorce. It’s natural for kids to feel responsible for their parent’s happiness, and when something like a divorce happens, it can seem like your parents were unhappy because of something you did. If your parents get divorced, try not to blame yourself. Remember the decision to get a divorce is between your parents, not you!
Children act out by misbehaving and becoming disruptive
You may find that your child becomes more aggressive, oppositional, and disrespectful. They may act out by misbehaving and becoming disruptive.
Your child’s behaviour will be affected by their age, temperament, gender, and other factors. Your child might also act out in ways you don’t expect—like being withdrawn or not wanting to go to school—but this does not necessarily mean he or she is being defiant. It’s important to understand that children of all ages need boundaries set for them even though they may test those boundaries from time to time.
Children withdraw socially
The first few days after a family break-up, it’s natural for children to feel sad and uncertain. They may withdraw socially or become reclusive, isolating themselves from friends. This is especially true if they’ve seen their parents argue or fight.
The difficulty of keeping friendships can also manifest itself as children have trouble making new ones and keeping old ones. For example, imagine you get into an argument with a friend at school over something that happened at home with your parents (divorce). That argument will be hard to forget because it was based on something personal and painful for both of you—and it might make sense for either of you not to want to hang out again until the hurt has healed some more!
Children become insecure, fearful, and anxious
There’s a lot of research on the effects that divorce can have on children, and the consensus is that kids tend to suffer from some sort of emotional turmoil.
One of the most common issues for kids is developing insecurity, which can manifest in many ways: Insecurity about their self-worth and how they’re viewed by others; fearfulness about their safety; anxiety over whether they will be loved or left alone again; and a sense that the world isn’t safe or predictable. Kids may also experience other symptoms like anger, sadness, or depression.
Children struggle to focus academically
Children may have trouble concentrating in school. They may also have trouble focusing on their homework or studying for a test. This can make it more difficult for your child to perform well academically.
- When you’re going through a divorce, the stress of the situation can affect your child’s ability to focus. Children who are experiencing trauma often find it difficult to concentrate on tasks that they would normally do easily, including paying attention in school or doing their homework (or both).
- If you feel like your child is having difficulty focusing in school due to the divorce, talk with their teacher about what’s going on and how best to help them improve their performance academically.
Children may experience depression, low self-esteem, or shame
- Depression: Children who experience divorce are at higher risk for depression, anxiety, and behavioural problems. They may also be more likely to develop negative feelings about themselves or their relationships with others.
- Low self-esteem: The loss of a parent figure and disruption of family routines can cause children to doubt their worth as people or feel that they are not good enough for anyone else.
- Shame: Some children blame themselves for their parent’s divorce, which can lead them to feel ashamed about something that isn’t their fault or worthy of shame at all
Children will seek ways to fill the void of a missing parent, be it through excessive computer usage or eating disorders
While children can be resilient, their development is greatly impacted by the loss of a parent. While it’s normal for children to act out in some way, when it comes to divorce, those acting out behaviours may become more frequent and more severe. For example, your child might develop an eating disorder or excessively use technology as a coping mechanism.
Some children who have been through divorce have even resorted to drug abuse as a way of dealing with the pain they’re experiencing. Because these are such extreme examples of how separation impacts families, we’ll focus on lesser-known signs that your child might be struggling with their own issues after going through a divorce:
- They become overly dependent on technology (iPhones/laptops) or social media sites like Facebook or Instagram
- They start exhibiting symptoms of depression (low moods for no reason) and anxiety (feeling nervous all the time)
Children develop a negative view of marriage and relationships with the opposite sex
Your child will learn about relationships from the examples of their parents. For this reason, it is important to make sure that your relationship with your ex-spouse is a positive one. If you are constantly fighting about child support, deciding on visitation schedules, or any other issue related to parenting and custody arrangements then your child will pick up on these behaviours and think that arguments are how normal relationships function.
It’s also important not to focus on the negative aspects of divorce when talking with your children about it. Children don’t need more reasons than they already have for feeling upset at home; they need their parents’ help in developing healthy ways of coping with the changes in their lives due to divorce.
Divorce is difficult for children to cope with and can have a long-term impact on them, making it important for parents to work hard at minimising this impact
It is important for children to be supported and guided through the divorce process. They need:
- To be heard and understood, especially when they have strong emotions about their parent’s separation.
- Reassurance that they are not to blame for what has happened between their parents.
- The opportunity to express their feelings about being a child in a divorced family (both positive and negative).
- The opportunity to express their fears about living apart from one parent or being with two new people who may not love them as much as they do now.
Hopefully, this article has helped you to understand how divorce impacts children. The key takeaway is that while a divorce is a difficult stage in life, it can be managed with the right tools and support. If you are struggling with divorce or know someone who is going through one, we invite you to reach out for help today!